Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Mercy and Money

I read an article yesterday about how the egg hatchery industry kills 200 million baby chickens each year — some by throwing them alive into a grinder — simply because they are male and can't produce eggs.

For anyone who cares enough to do even a tiny bit of research, it's excruciatingly clear how much suffering and misery exists in any industry where large numbers of animals are raised for food, whether it's for meat, eggs or milk.

Here are a few excerpts from the article I mentioned:

These chicks, which a narrator says are males, are then shown being dropped alive into a grinding machine.

In other parts of the video, a chick is shown dying on the factory floor amid a heap of egg shells after falling through a sorting machine. Another chick, also still alive, is seen lying on the floor after getting scalded by a wash cycle, according to the video narrator.

For some people, the answer is to not consume any animal products. That is definitely a choice I find no fault with. However, my ideal solution would not be to force everyone to become vegetarian, but instead for it to be possible to people to enjoy meat, eggs and milk without contributing to the agony of millions and millions of living, breathing beings. That means the horrors of factory farming would need to end. Sadly, the only way those horrors will end is if it becomes more profitable for the factories to care well for the animals than to mistreat them.

As a friend of mine wrote to me today, "It is so much work trying to shop and buy from a company with good practices and standards." And that is what's so frustrating as a consumer. Grocery stores and shops are like minefields, filled with factory-farmed chicken that claims to be "natural", toxic baby formula, poisoned pet food, lead-tainted toys, and who knows what else.

Why have the world's markets — and the world's consumers — allowed profit and convenience to come before basic human decency? Who is protecting the baby chickens being manhandled along a conveyor belt that is heading toward a grinder, and who is protecting us from our complicity in their deaths?

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